September 28, 2020

BY RANDI CLARKE

There are few words that can dramatically alter a person’s life but, “You have cancer,” are three of them.

Cancer affects the life of the person diagnosed as well as friends and family.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society’s website, there are more than 50 different types of cancer including the more well-known types such as breast, cervical, esophageal, kidney, leukemia, lung, liver, prostate, testicular and thyroid.

From January to November, every month is dedicated to increasing cancer awareness.

January has Weedless Wednesday, Feb. 4 is World Cancer Day, March raises awareness of colorectal cancer, April is Daffodil Month, May 31 is World No Tobacco Day, June 1 is National Cancer Survivors Day, September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Men’s Cancer Awareness Month and Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month as well as Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.

Every April, the Canadian Cancer Society raises funds and awareness by asking Canadians to support its Daffodil Month campaign.

This year they have teamed up with Loblaws to sell daffodils in its stores.

The company is expecting to sell more than 200,000 daffodil bunches or one million blooms at Loblaws’ many locations.

Peggy Hornell, senior director of community investment for Loblaws, said on the Canadian Cancer Society website, “The daffodil symbolizes strength and courage in the fight against cancer.”

Donating money isn’t always an option for people.

Awareness needs to get out somehow though, and this is why people have turned to different ways to show their support for those who have cancer.

Awareness can come in different ways.

People donate money at the grocery store, shave their heads or even stop shaving their beards and moustaches for the entire month of November (or Movember as it’s called) to raise awareness and funds for men’s health, particularly prostate cancer and testicular cancer as well as mental health.

Movember started in 2003 in Melbourne, Australia with only 30 Mo Bros (moustache brothers) participating.

Since then, it has grown to inspire more than four million guys and girls to participate across 21 countries.

Guys may be growing the ’staches, but ladies are encouraged to participate in the event as well.

Mo Sistas (slang for moustache sisters) raise funds and encourage the men in their lives to get involved.

Their jobs are the same as the men’s, the only difference being that women don’t have to actually grow moustaches or beards.

Last year, the Movember movement raised $129.6 million globally thanks to 969,176 Mo Bros and Mo Sistas.

Mark Romeo, stylist at Romeo Salon and Spa in Cambridge, said the youngest person who donated her hair to cancer was an eight-year-old girl.

“It was great! She was really excited to cut her hair short for charity,” Romeo said.

“She grew her hair out really long, way past the middle of her back and had her hair cut to her chin. It was quite the amount of hair.”

The hair that is cut for charity can be made into wigs.

Wicked Wig, a hair salon in Cambridge, has wigs that you are able to purchase on display.

The wigs at their salon are made from 100 per cent human hair or are made from synthetic hair, which affects the prices.

Rena Schmidt, a  Conestoga college alumni who is a mother of two young daughters, knows all too well how hard cancer can affect everyone.

“My daughter, Alex, was diagnosed with cancer when she was  five,” Schmidt said.

“It was hard for her to have to go through all those treatments at such a young age, but she did it.

“She was the reason why I decided to shave my head, obviously.

“I had heard of people shaving their heads to support those with cancer, but I had never done it myself,” she said.

“It didn’t take away from her pain, but it did lift her spirits.”

Schmidt said her daughter is cancer free now and has been for almost three years.

“It’s hard to believe some days. To me and my family, this proves that things can get better,” she said.

“Mommas expect bumps and bruises, broken windows and broken hearts.

They expect grass stains and ankle sprains. No momma who holds their beautiful baby expects to ever hear the words ‘your child has cancer,’” Schmidt said.

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